Toast of B-Town

Toast of B-Town

Youth wagon

Toast of B-Town

From being a new star kid on the block to becoming one of the most celebrated young actors, Ranbir Kapoor clearly stands out from  the rest of the Kapoor clan. Speaking to
Rajiv Vijayakar, the actor talks about his latest release and filmi equations

He’s probably the most sober of the Kapoors. The lineage sits lightly on him — though he’s obviously very proud to be part of the family, he would prefer to be known first as an actor rather than a star.

He says pragmatically, “I cannot compete with the Khans or Akshay Kumar, who have been around for more than 20 years. If I ask for a Dabangg today, filmmakers will tell me to get lost! We are media-made stars put on a pedestal, whereas they are super-stars whose films we grew up on.”

“This is why my generation of actors has to tread a different path,” concludes Ranbir Kapoor on a serious note, adding, “We must play our own kind of characters. Today, we do films that we believe in.” Ranbir goes on, “It’s been a great six-year run for me on the sets. I enjoy my job and have fallen in love with it. I am very lucky that I got more than what I deserved. Having said that, I want at some time to be the biggest star in this industry and get my talent noticed as an actor too.”

About ‘Yeh Jawaani...’

His upcoming release Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (YJHD) is already creating waves with the promos and the songs. We start the conversation on that musical note. Composer Pritam has excelled in his music for Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani and Barfi! apart from YJHD. Does the actor look at forming a team with him, just like his grandfather Raj Kapoor did with Shankar-Jaikishan, and his father Rishi Kapoor with Laxmikant-Pyarelal?

“I would not know,” he says candidly. “Actors do not work in so many films nowadays. It’s a great question though, because I want to say that the composer’s contribution to our career is really underrated. They help create an aura around us. Dada (Pritam) is amazing. He is not a show-off and his songs are melodious and aimed at the common man. I make it a point to send him a thank you note each time he gives a great song to me, including the single song Bheegi Si Bhaagi Si that he made for me in Raajneeti.”

Ranbir adds that he learnt a key lesson in lip-sync songs from his dad. “We were watching my Anjaana Anjaani promo on television in 2010, and my father looked blank till he yelled, ‘Ranbir, sing loudly!’ My father then added that a song cannot come alive only with lip-sync. I must imbibe the song and express the lyrics well.”

When congratulated for his dancing in Yeh Jawaani… and Barfi!, Ranbir reveals that he adores grand-uncle Shammi Kapoor for his dances. “We are both untrained,” he says. “Technically, we may be weak, but we know rhythm and enjoy it, so that protects the deficiencies in our dance from being noticed.”

About co-star Deepika Padukone, he raves, “I never knew that she would go beyond all my expectations in such a short while. Our debut films, Saawariya and Om Shanti Om, both released on the same day — November 9, 2007. We then worked together on Bachna Ae Haseeno. She constantly surprises me, but does not intimidate her co-stars. Because of our friendship, I know her weaknesses as an actor — and today, she has turned them all into her strengths.”

On link-ups

What is Ranbir’s stand on gossip that links him up with so many actresses? “Look, I completely understand gossip as an audience. I will not lie — I enjoy watching or listening to grapevine about others. It’s only when they target me that khud ki band baj jaati hai and one feels bad. At that time, it’s best to concentrate on one’s work and try and ignore everything else,” says the actor candidly.

He refutes any insinuation that he is insecure. “Why should I be? I was never so even in the past, and now that I am 30, I am certainly very secure,” he says. “Unlike cases in the past, my generation of heroes, from Imran Khan to Amit Sadh, is cordial and warm with one another. We like healthy competition and though we may not be buddies who meet every evening, we make it a point to call each other up when someone does a great job in a film.”

Ranbir showers praise on Madhuri Dixit (with whom he has done the song Ghaghra in Yeh Jawaani…). Getting into star-struck mode, he declares, “The first woman I fell in love with was Madhuri Dixit, and she was also the first woman who gave me a heartbreak. To see her on stage, actually dance with her, and then kiss her on the cheek as part of the song, was just amazing. She is so passionate about her work even now.”

In YJHD, Ranbir plays a happy-go-lucky guy named Bunny. Harpreet Singh (Rocket Singh), Jordan (Rockstar), Barfi (Barfi!) and now Bunny — does Ranbir have a hand in these peculiar names for the characters he plays? “To an extent, I do,” he admits. “The director and writers also take the call. But one does remember these names more easily than common ones like Rahul or Ajay, right?” He also adds that in his new film Besharam, his character is named Pepsi.

Isn’t Besharam the film that sees him cast with his parents Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh? “Yes, the film is in post-production.” How was the experience from both his and their sides? “We were professionals when the camera rolled. To his credit, dad made me very comfortable and mom too was very caring. Yes, dad tended to be a bit hot tempered on the sets, and mom would pacify him, if something went wrong,” he grins. He declares that he is very proud of his dad for his successful new innings as an actor.

And how true is it that he is co-producing Bombay Velvet? He shrugs and says, “I am not a regular producer. It’s just that most actors shirk away from charging direct fees and prefer a stake in the films if they make profits. It’s fairer on the producer that way.”

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